I appeal to you, O vast base of reader knowledge!

Today, I found a slug. A slug I have never seen before. A slug that looked almost like slick tree bark, or a boa constrictor, a lovely mottled reticulated pattern, gray and brown with darker patches along the back, and dark little antennae. He was about two inches long, relatively fat bodied, with no obvious shield-shaped thingy. He was a very pretty slug.

I decided that I must immediately identify this sluggy visitor, only to discover to my shock and dismay that E-Nature has no field guide to slugs! Nor could I locate one on-line! Generally any species I could name has an on-line guide, but all I could find were sea slugs, and my deck is not really that oceanic.

Anybody know where I can find the slug listings on-line, or can identify this cute, if presumably slimy and voracious visitor?

Battle For The Crown

Temporary crown vs. Toast! Battle of the Century!

Crown has, so far, been undefeated! Toast has been macerated for a good few months! Death to the toasty infidel!

However, this morning, with a fearful internal CRACK! Toast got the last laugh! Victory is Toast’s!

Half of the offending crown was fished out in sudden dismay. The other half is on the long journey south even as we speak, accompanying a mouthful of toast, a fallen dental warrior travelling to Valhalla with the shattered body of its foe across its shield.

I kinda hope my insurance paperwork has gone through, as I’ve been waiting for it to do, because the sudden gaping hole in the molar skyline is unsettling. It will be replaced Monday, 8:30 sharp, insurance paperwork or not, it’s just a pain in the ass to do the paperwork and set up all the payment plans and whatnot.

On the bright side, doesn’t hurt at all–the tooth is dead as a doornail and well-filled, so other than some slight tenderness to the gums and the sheer WEIRDNESS of the hole, it wasn’t painful, just startling as hell. Since I’ve had tooth pain, and I will take any other pain on earth over it, this is a major plus.

Well, THAT’ll certainly wake you up in the morning…

Had a nightmare last night when I was suddenly back in high school (Yes, over a decade later, I STILL have nightmares about high school) and had a final, and the final turned out to be having to label the parts of a circuit board.

“You bombed, of course,” said James, who has, quite correctly, no illusions about my technical skills.

“Actually, I got “capacitor” right.”

James turned away from frying bacon long enough to give me a skeptical look. “You don’t know what a capacitor is.”

“The hell I don’t! It’s the thingies that store power even when you think the thing’s turned off and then when you grab it, it shocks the shit out of you.”

“Ohhh….I start to see why you might have remembered that one…”*

I went smugly back to my coffee, and didn’t mention that in my dream, I had labelled another part of the circuit board “Severus Snape” for no apparent reason.

*James is, of course, correct on this one–there’s bitter experience behind it. I once took a summer class in high school and built a laser. All my soldering and circuit building skills have long since faded, but years later, when it broke, I attempted to fix it. This involved turning it off, opening it up, gazing at it while the word “capacitor” drifted vaguely across the back of my brain, then shrugging and grabbing something. The resulting jolt shorted my memory out completely–there’s about half a minute from when I touched the thing to when I woke up on the floor a few feet away that I never did get back, and my heart hammered savagely in my chest in a way it never has before or since, for almost five minutes. Once I could get up, I put my laser away, and was careful never to mention this to my mother.

Today’s Digger made me realize something.

I have a hard time with villains.

In today’s strip, for non readers, we have two characters we met a few pages back, two sort of patchwork, scruffy lizards wearing–or possibly made of–random stitched together hides. They want to skin our heroine, but for all the right reasons, and one is actually patting her hand and assuring her that they would be very, VERY careful, and that her skin would be very well treated. Digger is having none of this, of course, but the reader hopefully gets the impression that the skin-lizards aren’t actually malicious, merely…very odd.

Their first appearance is literally on page two of Digger, when they were creepy voices in the dark. They appeared again much later, still as creepy voices in the dark. They were initially meant to be something monsterous and rather one-dimensional–I wasn’t really sure what. But by the time they were finally revealed, they had started to grow on me, until they seemed like a cross between Ed Gein, a puppy, and the rat-creatures in “Bone,” I didn’t meet them too long before the reader did, but I found myself liking them. They’re fairly nice lizards, they just have a totally skewed world view, and they genuinely think they’re doing Digger a favor by offering to preserve her skin for posterity.

This is the problem I had with all my villains. I like them too much. I can’t do evil very well. I start out with the worst intentions, and I wind up with “misguided, but sincere.” And while this is arguably a better thing than “PURE EVIL FOR NO APPARENT REASON!” it’s also a sort of needlessly complex thing–if I like all my villains too much, if they all turn out to be decent people operating under different cultural mores, as seems to be my standard fall back position, we wind up in a world with no real villains, and I worry that in what is basically a fairly simple fantasy travelogue, this will eventually come back and bite me in the ass–I’ll need a villain to slot into a plot space, and I won’t have one, just a lot of random characters blinking at me and saying “But I’m not bad at all once you get to know me!”

My own experience is no real help. I don’t know any deeply evil people. I’ve known people who are malicious and spiteful and lazy and selfish, to the point of not being redeemed by their other qualities, but generally they only succeeded in making life miserable for the people immediately around them, and I suspect even most of them would have offered a hand to somebody dangling off a cliff without even stopping to think about it–they weren’t EVIL, just lousy. So I dunno.

I guess I’ll just cross that bridge when I come to it….

Rough night last night. I’m feeling a good deal better–still sweating the clammy, bitter sweat of the not entirely healthy, still just slightly more removed from reality than usual* but otherwise better–but the sinusoidal ills still plague me. I was doing great yesterday evening, but last night the dreaded Creeping Nasal Gunk kicked in, and after a few hours of tossing and turning and trying to find a position where one side or the other wasn’t immediately plugged up like constipated concrete, I finally relocated to the couch to sleep sitting more-or-less upright. Breathing through my mouth meant that the sore throat returned, as still-delicate tissues dried out, which was not to be considered. So I only got about four hours of sleep, and while I am awake and conscious and even reasonably alert, I can already tell that it won’t last too long.

As is usually the case when I am ill/drugged/brain dead, I can write, I can even draw a bit, as long as it’s Digger, since drawing Digger is now an automatic hindbrain function uncoupled from any requirement for thought, but higher art is totally a lost cause. Because of this, I now have tons of ideas. “Heeeey…giant stone armadillos! Yeah! More surrealist fun with naked mole rats! Yeah! Yeah! Mouse and lima beans!” (Lima beans? What the hell…?)

Cursed brain. I think it enjoys doing this to me.

So I’m running off prints, because it only requires a small bit of brainpower. Eventually I will probably go back to bed.

James’s sister will be arriving tomorrow afternoon, to spend a week with us, and I hope I’m feeling better by then. And that I don’t give her the plague. (James, of course, has both the iron dwarven constitution AND is on antibiotics, thus making him resistant to anything short of the biological equivalent of a tactical nuclear strike, or another tick with a grudge.) Since my mission this visit is to make dead certain that said sibling is using birth control, and I have carte blanche to go absolutely screaming ape-bat-shit otherwise, I want to be in top form. While this is one of the few topics that could raise me off my deathbed, with wrath in my veins and fire in my eyes (and perhaps sinuses) and perhaps even call me, Lazarus-like, back from the cold embrace of death,** there’s a chance my abused throat might give out before I was done hammering the point home, and nobody wants to give the second half of the Responsible Sex speech in mime.

*I know, I know, no need to say it…

** This is not an exaggeration. Someday, I will be the only ghost on earth appearing to rattle ghostly Norplants, writing “tHe rYthyM mEthoD iS nOt eFfecTive!” in ectoplasm on mirrors, and throwing poltergeist fits if anyone in the house dares to engage in unprotected sex.

Tired, glassy-eyed and stringy haired, covered in clammy fever-sweat, which is worse than mere hard-working sweat, I groggily went to the door to get the Fed Ex package and gazed at it thoughtfully.*

My father had called to say, some days before, that his birthday present was arriving a little late because the ebay seller had shipped slowly. I had thanked him for sending something, and with the generalized lack of materialism that categorizes many adult birthdays, promptly forgot that anybody was sending me anything, so by the time it arrived, I had done exactly no speculation on the matter.

“Hmm…” I thought groggily. “Ebay…?” and slit the box, pulled out the packaging, and gaped a gape from dangling jaw, as “The World of Michael Parkes” fell into my lap. (I had expressed an interest in this book some months back, in the general format of “I cannot BELIEVE what people are charging for this book!”)

Dude. Wow. It wouldn’t have even occurred to me to ask for something like that if I’d be been thinking, but DUDE! Awesome!

In order to get my father something he likes half so much for HIS birthday, I’d probably have to learn about cars. (Restoring Jaguars is his great love.) This is just not gonna happen, since cars are an even vaster mystery to me than computers, and I know better than to get experts anything in their field. Maybe I can find some nice Series I Jaguar memorabilia somewhere…

And now, I am going to go take a shower, that my plague-ridden self not taint the coolness of the pages, and then sit on the couch for an hour going “Oooooo…”

*Frankly, I don’t care what the Fed-Ex guy thinks, since I know the great secret–I’m undoubtedly not the most haggard person on his route today, and as long as I am not naked, screaming, or rude, he will have forgotten me within thirty seconds.

I live!

I spent most of yesterday feeling like grilled shit, and in fact, I suspect this is plague rather than pollen, since I was running a peculiar alternating fever (Up a degree, down a degree, up a degree, down a degree…) and my skin had that too-tender sensitivity, as if I had been gifted with an invisible full-body sunburn. Today, while I am still not quite firing on all thrusters, I am doing significantly better–still the low-level snorfle that more or less epitomizes my existence, still the not-quite-fever twitches, but the sore throat has faded to a bare scratchiness, and the railroad-spike in the eye headache is gone at the moment, which is a relief. I can work through a pretty bad headache, but this was like having God poke you repeatedly in the eye.*

As is usual when I’m sick, I read Robin McKinley books and ate jello. All may not be right with the world, but it’s as close as you can get.

While I would like to declare myself healthy and throw myself back into painting, that way lies relapse, and I know I’m not up to it, so I’m going to do a Digger layout and then go back to bed for a bit, and see how I feel after that.

*I assume God says “Nyuk nyuk!” while doing this, because really, who wouldn’t?